There are so many social media avenues today and the list continues to grow.  Throw in live streaming and you have a buffet table of social marketing tools at your disposal.  In my opinion one of the originators of social media marketing and prospecting is Twitter.

While some will say that Twitter is always playing defense rather than offense when it comes to the social media world, I would say that Twitter is still a very powerful social media prospecting tool for businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals alike.

Twitter still has a powerful punch on the market and with over 300 million active users is a big player in the social media world.  If you aren’t tapping into its potential then you are grossly overlooking the platform.

Here are five keys to prospecting more efficiently on Twitter:

1. Finding targets.

You want to identify and search for keywords and hashtags that your potential buyers are using or might be using.  One of the most efficient ways to do this is to use the built-in Twitter search to find users that fit your ideal client profiles and then follow them.

Once you build up your following count or Twitter pipeline, you will want to organize them into designated lists based on profile, needs, and how your service can help them.  This will allow you to more easily track their movements on Twitter and continue to engage them most effectively.

A great tool for this particular use is Tweetdeck.  The key to finding targets is to organically look at building your list.  Do not get caught up trying to use the automated channels because it discredit your account and is ultimately not authentic.  Be sure to engage your targets through tweets, personal responses, and retweets.

2. Look for the buying indicators.

Prospecting on Twitter will require some dedication to monitoring your Twitter feed.  You also want to utilize the Twitter search feature here as well.  Keywords to identify in that search are in the forms of hashtags such as #HELP, #ADVICENEEDED, #ANYONERECOMMEND, etc.  These are buying indicators that someone or some business is looking for help or needing assistance.

You must identify if your business or service can provide the assistance or solve the problem and look to get on the short list of suitors.  You can do this by simply recognizing those buying signals and then engaging those respective users on Twitter at the beginning of the sales cycle or process.  The key here is to not be reactive to their needs but to be proactive through quick and efficient engagement.

3. Do the pre-sale research.

Are you seeing a common theme here?  Twitter is king on social media research and you should be prospecting through pre-sale research via the Twitter application.  To effectively research you will use Twitter to monitor your prospective targets and competition to gain better insight on their challenges, goals, and agendas.  This is important because it allows you build responsive data and formulate an engagement game plan and sales pitch for these targets.

A tool to use to make this particular step more efficient is Social Mention which gives you the opportunity to gain an understanding on what your clients, targets, and competition are saying on the Twitter application.

4. Build relationships with key influencers.

This is becoming on of the most popular ways users on social media are jump starting their business opportunities and/or create affiliations with key influencers. However, I must caution everyone that building relationships with key influencers is important to abuse and spamming all of those influencers with mass amounts of content.

Treat these influencers in the same manner you would treat potential targets.  Engage with them, share their content, re- tweet them, and lead them to valuable content that would benefit them or offer enhanced value to their content.  Be sure to be more personal with influencers through video content and use brevity when responding or sharing content with them as they are highly influential and typically receiving many requests per day.

Once you build a relationship with them you will have a level of credibility on Twitter and can begin looking at following those whom they follow as well on the Twitter platform. A great tool to use for this is Klout which can help you to identify those key influencers on Twitter.

5. Build your following.

You want to build YOUR following and start to create your Twitter pipeline that not benefits you but is relevant to your long-term goals and how you will use Twitter as a tool to achieve those goals.  Yes you will follow celebrity accounts and brands but make sure that you are doing with a strategy in place on how to gain better engagement with those who follow those celebrities and brands as well.

You want to tweet often and during hours most would be able to view those tweets.  Use appropriate hashtags and comment on posts or subjects that relate to your personal product, brand, or service.  It is also important to know that you should create your own content; however, you don’t have to always do so.

You can effectively build your following by curating content and sharing relevant content that has already been created on the Twitter platform.  This is another way to build credibility and gain visibility to audiences that are already following that particular content you are sharing.  This falls under the “work smarter not harder” definition.

As you can see Twitter has a lot of functionality that those who look to increase their B2B or B2C activity need to utilizing.  While there are new methods and avenues that are evolving everyday I would suggest using these 5 key ways right away to begin prospecting more efficiently on Twitter right now.

 Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Matt Crane
Matt Crane is a former NCAA athlete turned entrepreneur. Matt founded the Power Of Great Podcast in which he interviews individuals from all walks of life that recognize that their current situation is not their defining moment and now look to help others do the very same. Download the podcast –> (bit.ly/powerofgreat).

Matt Crane is the Co-Founder and Co-Author of Master Your Limits a Self-Help & Consulting Brand as well as being the Chief Marketing Officer for Smartr Marketing & The Smartr App Company.

Matt currently resides in TN with his wife Tammy and their two boys Dalton & Riley and is also a published contributor for Huffington Post and Prsuit online publication.